FimFiction Link - Short ID: 537303/cam09-is-offline
Published: Jun '23
'CAM_09 IS OFFLINE' is a fifteen thousand word G5 shortfic. The M5 plus a few friends visit the (might not just) supposedly haunted Canterlot castle.
If the mere mention of G5 sends you into a fit of nausea, I'm sorry to say there is nothing much for you to see here. However, if you're a bit more open to it, I'm happy to say this was a fun fic to read, even if I felt things fell a little flat by the end.
One thing I really liked was how well the author captured each character's personality. The first chapter, where nothing really wrong happens yet could almost be from the show. While sure they aren't as charming as the M6, the new cast still has some fun chemistry and the writer leaned into it. I'm also very impressed by the format. I obliged the first chapter's A/N, which stated that chapters can be read out of order and I was impressed by just how well things lined up by the end. Most chapters reference something that is only revealed in another chapter, providing a nicely interconnected narrative that I haven't really seen done in many pieces of literature let alone fics.
As for the plot itself? How much you'll enjoy it comes down to your initial expectations. There are a few things the cast does that are very obvious idiot ball drops and horror tropes like leaving their phones home, making it so that they can't talk to each other through their walkie-talkies. To an extent this can be explained with them wanting to make a scary experience, but then they are also going into a dangerous, decrepit ruin while actively denying themselves a means of calling for help. It feels a bit too irresponsible even for them.
Still, if you put yourself past this, the actual hauntings are fun, though as a whole I feel both the mechanism behind it and the "scares" themselves could have fit the location more. Only Sunny's scene felt directly attached to the past, with everyone else's feeling a little... Well, generic perhaps? With G4 being the in-universe past of G5, there are so many events that could have inspired the different visions the characters experience, but instead most of them are bog standard horror tropes with only the thinnest coat of pony paint.
The big reveal too feels both satisfying in the sense that at least the whole thing is given a reason, but also a bit lacklustre considering it wasn't even able to accomplish its purpose. Also, I can accept that Zipp is a tech pro, but I just can't buy her fixing an amulet made by alicorns in pitch black while also panicking... It might be just another vision and the real amulet was actually elsewhere safely, but the story implies otherwise.
Overall: 6/10 The "meta" aspect of the story is pretty cool and the way the characters are written is nice as well. I also appreciate not going the le grimdark route. The actual plot, however, is a bit too by the books to really set itself out. Can mostly recommend.